\ ˈbilk How to pronounce bilk (audio) \
bilked; bilking; bilks

Definition of bilk

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to block the free development of : frustrate fate bilks their hopes
2a : to cheat out of something valuable : defraud bilking investors out of their life savings
b : to evade payment of or to bilks his creditors
c : to obtain (something) by defrauding someone The Tampa couple sent out phony sonograms and bilked money from couples wanting children, authorities say.— Brady Dennis
3 : to slip away from bilked her pursuers



Definition of bilk (Entry 2 of 2)

: an untrustworthy tricky individual : cheat

Other Words from bilk


bilker noun

Did you know?


Initially, "bilking" wasn't considered cheating-just good strategy for cribbage players. Language historians aren't sure where "bilk" originated, but they have noticed that its earliest uses occur in contexts referring to cribbage. Part of the scoring in cribbage involves each player adding cards from his or her hand to a pile of discards called the "crib." At the end of a hand, the dealer gets any points in the crib. Strategically, then, it's wisest for the dealer's opponent to discard non-scoring cards-the ones most likely to "balk," or put a check on, the dealer's score. Etymologists theorize that "bilk" may have originated as an alteration of that card-game "balk."

Examples of bilk in a Sentence

Verb an investigation revealed that the garage had been bilking motorists for repairs that had never been made Noun people who lost money in the scheme discovered that the investment company was a fake and the “owner” just a bilk
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Her boss, Jason Sugarman, is facing SEC charges for his alleged role in a scheme to bilk $43 million in client funds intended for Native American tribal bonds. Hayley Smith, Los Angeles Times, 29 Nov. 2021 Along with paying kickbacks to other physicians, including for an expensive Naloxone auto-injector, Abdalla and the other pharmacists took out fake prescriptions in various names to bilk insurance companies, according to court documents. Washington Post, 25 Sep. 2021 State prosecutors alleged Timmons and O'Malley used direct and indirect costs, inflated expense reports and false bills to bilk the state's low-income health care system out of at least $10.9 million over five years, from 2013 to 2018. Stephanie Innes, The Arizona Republic, 21 June 2021 The answer appears to be that, just as Wirecard simulated a global presence to bilk German investors, zu Guttenberg simulated worldliness to pull the wool over the eyes of German politicians, voters, and journalists. Adrian Daub, The New Republic, 21 Apr. 2021 But the call had come from Canada, with the money directed to a vacant home in Baltimore and intercepted by people working as part of a sophisticated network throughout North America to bilk seniors. Justin Fenton,, 26 Mar. 2021 But one of his former victims worried that Erickson would continue to bilk people out of money. Stephen Groves, Star Tribune, 20 Jan. 2021 Paschal Ngozi Eleanya, 46, and Arael Doolittle, 55, allegedly attempted to bilk the foreign government, which the Justice Department did not name, out of more than $317 million. Washington Post, 24 Nov. 2020 Two Encino couples are facing federal charges for an alleged scheme to bilk more than $5.6 million out of COVID-19 economic relief programs, federal prosecutors announced Wednesday. Hayley Smith, Los Angeles Times, 19 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun And, despite its super hinky backstory, a bronze behemoth of bilk is taking shape in Everett. Yvonne Abraham,, 17 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bilk.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of bilk


1641, in the meaning defined at sense 3


1777, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for bilk

Verb and Noun

perhaps alteration of balk entry 1

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Last Updated

6 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Bilk.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for bilk



English Language Learners Definition of bilk

: to cheat or trick (a person or organization) especially by taking money

More from Merriam-Webster on bilk

Nglish: Translation of bilk for Spanish Speakers


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